Overwhelmed? Build a Cocoon

Frazzled? Overwhelmed? Join the club. Between the run-up to the holidays, the short winter days, and cold and flu season, I’m challenged myself. So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to reset, I do a mini-cocoon session.

For me, cocooning is about creating a cozy, contained space where I can let the inner whirlwind run its course until the dust settles. It starts with choosing a place.

My place is my living room couch. What’s so special about a couch? Well, perhaps nothing for you, but for me it’s this lovely piece of furniture that I splurged on. It’s also the center of my home. It’s where I relax, write, eat, pet my cat, and talk deeply with loved ones. It’s where I feel most at home.

Your place may be different. Perhaps your bed is where you feel snug and warm…or your bathtub…or closet. Or maybe your place is a backyard bench or a roof under the stars—not everyone likes feeling contained. You know it’s your place because, when you’re there, you feel relief.

I also secure my space. I don’t want to be interrupted, so I lock my door and turn off my phone. I tell Mara, my cat, that she’s welcome to join but no bugging. She gets it.

The next step is to add sensory elements that help you relax. For me, that means sound. When I was three, I experienced my first thunderstorm from the security of a warm house. Ever since, I’ve found rainstorms soothing, so I play a recording of one.

Your sensory elements will be specific to you. You may need warmth to relax, or weight. So get blankets and a heating pad, or try a weighted blanket. Or perhaps you need scent. Lavender can be relaxing…or maybe a scent from your childhood. It might be as simple as candlelight or a plush fabric to rub between your fingers.

Once I’m on my couch, with blankets piled on and my thunderstorm playing, I let the comforting sensations wrap me up and hold me. And then I stop trying to suppress all of the feelings of stress and overwhelm. I just let them wash through. It’s safe to feel them in this place.

The overwhelm often moves through like a cloudburst, all pouring emotions, rumbling sensations, and static electricity. But eventually it peters out. And in its wake, I’m calmer. I’m more here, in my body. And the stressors, out there, seem smaller.

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